OMAHA, Neb. -- When LSU entered the 2013 season, the coaching staff knew that they would be returning two great bats from the 2012 lineup in seniors Mason Katz and Raph Rhymes. Katz had a fantastic season in 2013 by compiling a batting average of .370 with 16 homeruns and 70 RBI, something that resulted in him being drafted in the fourth round by the St. Louis Cardinals this year.
Rhymes didn't have even remotely the same kind of season that he had in 2012, but he still had a great year. The LSU senior finished the season with an average of .331, four homeruns and 46 RBI. Rhymes also has baseball in his future as the Detroit Tigers chose him in this year's draft.
While both had great years, fans will likely have two completely different opinions of the players following LSU's quick exit from the College World Series. Most will remember Katz for hitting one of only two total homeruns in the first two rounds in Omaha.
Rhymes will be a little different. Rhymes never found his groove in Omaha and it resulted in him not collecting a hit for the duration of the two games that the Tigers were around. He went 0-9 in the Series and was a part of one of the most questioned plays of the weekend when he grounded into a double play in the ninth inning against UCLA.
In two games, Rhymes was responsible for leaving numerous runners on base and for being the victim of the fly ball while at the plate of an enormous TD Ameritrade Park.
Even though both players had differing performances, they will both be missed dearly on next year's team.
Following the loss in an elimination game to North Carolina, LSU's Paul Mainieri tried unsuccessfully to choke back tears when speaking about the lack of production from Rhymes in Omaha.
"It's was a rough couple of days for them," said Mainieri. "Raph has had such an up and down season. His year last year was off the charts. This year he just hasn't been able to repeat his swing. He's the greatest kid in the world. I love him like my own children."
"I just feel bad for him. Knowing him, he's going to blame himself and he can't do that."
In the end, individual production can be thrown out because LSU lost as a team. If there is one player that understands this it is Katz.
Katz had arguably one of, if not the best College World Series of any LSU hitter. Most fans appreciate that and applaud Katz for what he was able to do, but he sure doesn't.
For Katz, the quick exit from Omaha is very disappointing, even with the individual production that he experienced. He spoke about this and why the season the Tigers had was still great following LSU's loss on Tuesday.
"We need to let it sink in," said Katz. "It's pretty devastating right now. We will eventually be able to get back and see what great things we did this year."
"It was a pretty remarkable season and we had expectations to win it all, but only one team can win it all," said Katz. "I have no regrets from this year and I wouldn't want to play with another group of guys."
With production differing so drastically between the two, some fans might be curious about what was wrong with Raph Rhymes in Omaha. However, the simple fact is that he just fell into a slump like several other members of the LSU lineup.
When the dust settles, Rhymes will still be a great hitter and an even better teammate to those around him.
Katz and Rhymes are two players that college coaches try to build programs around. Every successful program has players like these two on their roster. It will be difficult to replace them in 2014, but if things go the way they have for LSU, someone is sure to step into that role.
Katz and Rhymes different in performances
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